Education & Public Outreach


Lick Observatory Domes at Dusk

Education and Public Outreach

Note: For information about visiting Lick Observatory and our public programs, please click here.

UCO is committed to improving science education and science literacy in the United States. Our education and public outreach (EPO) mission is to inspire deep connections with the universe and to engage our local communities in learning about scientific practices, astronomical discoveries, and enabling technologies. By doing so, we empower our community members to be scientifically literate, to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and to understand science as a human endeavor. Ultimately, we aim to improve the scientific advancement of students at all levels, of educators, and of the general public in our communities.

To achieve this mission, UCO, along with other important partners throughout California, Hawaii, and beyond, offers EPO initiatives for a variety of audiences that are uniquely enriched by UCO’s cutting-edge scientific research, instruments, and astronomers. Whether you are a teacher or other science educator looking to improve your practice, or a UC researcher or student looking for EPO opportunities, we seek to connect with you through one or more of the following programs:

Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE)

With its home at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Adaptive Optics, the ISEE program prepares science and engineering graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for their educational role as future faculty members, and a wide range of other science and engineering careers. At the heart of this initiative is the ISEE Professional Development Program (PDP); a flexible, multi-year professional development opportunity primarily for science and engineering graduate students to help them develop and put new teaching skills into practice. PDP training is applicable to many general aspects of teaching and mentoring, but the program emphasizes inquiry, diversity/equity, and assessment. To learn more, please visit and

Akamai Workforce Initiative (AWI)

AWI is run by a consortium that includes ISEE and is led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Institute for Astronomy, the Thirty Meter Telescope, National Solar Observatory, and many Hawaii observatories, companies, academic institutions, and community organizations. The primary goal of AWI is to build a local technical workforce that reflects the diverse demographics of the state of Hawaii. The initiative includes internships for college students, technical training, career coaching, and training for scientists and engineers to become more effective educators and mentors. AWI also played a key role in developing a new 4-year engineering technology degree program at University of Hawaii Maui College, establishing a long-term pathway for local students to pursue technical careers. The internship model used by AWI was originally developed by the Center for Adaptive Optics, and includes a range of innovative support mechanisms to advance participants into STEM careers. Participating students have been tracked for many years, and 83% have remained on a STEM pathway.     Additional information, including how to get involved, can be found at

Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (LOTI)

In partnership with the Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, UCO will soon launch the Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (LOTI). Each summer, LOTI will engage northern California middle and high school science teachers in STEM content in multi-day professional development workshops held on site at Lick Observatory. The goal of LOTI is to inspire and energize teachers by exposing them to the real process of astronomical research. Workshops will feature well-vetted classroom activities that have a proven track record in other teacher professional development programs. In addition, there will be tours and demonstrations of Lick Observatory’s various research instruments, as well as nighttime observing opportunities. UC scientists will participate in the workshops, providing insights for the connections between educational teaching standards and their research. We are currently planning to hold LOTI’s inaugural workshop in the summer of 2013. More information will be posted here once the schedule is final.

Support UCO’s EPO Programs

UCO is looking to improve and grow its EPO offerings. An exciting new partnership with The Tech Museum of Innovation promises to greatly expand UCO’s EPO impact throughout the greater San Jose metropolitan area and the Silicon Valley. Through this and our other EPO efforts, including new initiatives to come, UCO is making a significant contribution to science education and science literacy in the communities where we work. If you would like to help, please consider supporting UCO with a financial or in-kind donation. To find out how, please click here.